SAU 21 Teachers' Union Opposes Change

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Hampton Academy Restructuring at Heart of the Issue

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, April 17, 2009

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- The Seacoast Education Association sent a letter Thursday, April 16 to Hampton School Board members asking them to officially reconsider their vote to restructure Hampton Academy.

The letter from the teacher's union was given to the board during a special meeting that was called at the SAU office. Roughly 20 parents showed up to see if the board was going to discuss the restructruing but it wasn't a topic of conversation. Board members met to discuss using roughly $265,500 in surplus funds that they anticipate will be left over at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

The union letter states members are adamantly opposed to the board's decision to change the education model of Hampton Academy for the 2009-10 school year.

The board voted last week drop the "middle school philosophy" and revert back to a "junior high type model" of instruction with an added focus on core curriculum.

As a part of the restructuring plan, the board voted to eliminate two unified art programs and seven teaching positions. The board said the reductions were called for after they decided to eliminate excessive teaching planning periods that are currently in the schedule.

"We believe the decision was made with undue haste, without sufficient deliberation and without appropriate consideration of impact on staff, students and the community," the teacher's union letter said.

The union was also offended that members were not asked to provide professional advice and opinion on the issue.

"We, as affiliate members of the National Education Association and the National Education Association of N.H., have access to a great deal of research and data that we would be glad to share to assist the board in evaluating middle school vs junior high models," stated the union.

But unfortunately, the union said, it was never asked.

The union contends they should have been involved because the teachers are the ones who will be responsible for implementing the new model.

"We find it highly questionable for the board to have made such an important decision in the manner it was accomplished," stated the union.

School Board members received the union letter Thursday night but did not review it or discuss it at the meeting.

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